MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Atlanta0 1 1 0 2 0 6 0 0 10121
Colorado0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 490
  W: L. Sims (1-3)   L: J. Hoffman (6-5)
12:10 PM PT1:10 PM MT2:10 PM CT3:10 PM ET15:10 ET19:10 GMT3:10 12:10 PM MST2:10 PM EST2:40 PM VEN23:10 UAE2:10 PM CT, August 17, 2017
Coors Field, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 30,020

Gonzalez seeks strong finish as Rockies host Braves

DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez is hitting better lately.

The Colorado Rockies right fielder was mired in a deep slump for so long, though, his chances of ending the season with a robust bottom line resembling those of past seasons are slim.

Instead, Gonzalez is aiming "to just finish strong" and help the Rockies reach the postseason for the first time since 2009, not concerning himself where his own stats end up.

Heading into the series finale with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, Gonzalez is hitting .236 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 100 games. He has a .191 average with runners in scoring position.

Gonzalez, however, has hit safely in nine of his past 11 games, going 13-for-42 (.310) with four doubles and eight RBIs. He feels he is dictating his at-bats.

"It's different when you don't go to the plate trying to see what happens," Gonzalez said. "Right now, I feel in control. Everyone is going to have bad at-bats and bad games. I think what's important is just to stay positive and feel good about yourself that you're going to get the job done.

"Most of the time when I get out it's because I got myself out. I chased bad pitches. But I feel like I can control my at-bats, and whenever they give me a good pitch, I'm not missing those as much."

The Braves need a win Thursday to split the four-game series.

Jeff Hoffman (6-4, 5.15 ERA) will start for the Rockies, while Lucas Sims (0-3, 5.71) gets the ball for the Braves. Both were first-round picks: Hoffman taken ninth overall by Toronto in 2014 and Sims 21st overall by Atlanta in 2012. Neither has faced his Thursday opponent.

Sims, 23, made his major league debut Aug. 1 and will be making his fourth career start after losing his first three. His latest outing was Saturday at St. Louis, where Sims, in his first road start, gave up 10 hits and five runs (four earned) in 5 1/3 innings during a 6-5 defeat.

Hoffman lost his last start 4-3 at Miami on Saturday when he allowed seven hits and four runs in five innings. Since he last won July 16, Hoffman is 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in five starts.

Hoffman will hope to slow Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, who has hit safely five consecutive games, going 6-for-18. Swanson went 1-for-3 with a double in Atlanta's 17-2 loss Wednesday and was robbed of a hit when Rockies shortstop Trevor Story made a diving catch of a liner in the fifth.

Swanson began the season with the Braves but was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 26 when he was hitting .213. That move came after a game at Arizona. The Diamondbacks took Swanson, 23, first overall in the 2015 draft but traded him to the Braves in December of that year in an ill-fated deal for Arizona that sent pitcher Shelby Miller to the desert.

The Braves recalled Swanson on Aug. 9, when Johan Camargo, who took over at shortstop, sustained a right knee bone bruise.

Recalling the day Swanson was demoted to the minors, Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said, "This is what I told him, 'You need to go down and get confidence again. You need to be in a more relaxed setting to where you can just go play, get your swagger back.' Because this kid knows he can hit, knows he can play, but if you're not walking up there with a swagger to yourself, it's an uphill battle."

Seitzer said Swanson was missing fastballs, getting pitches to hit and fouling them off and having nothing to show for it when he did barrel a ball.

"There comes a point, you start trying harder," Seitzer said. "Then the pressing comes. He was battling. He's a very tough kid. He's very grounded mentally, emotionally. There weren't snaps or pouting. He came with a good attitude every day.

"Since he's been back, he's been barreling a lot of balls and not getting much to show for it. But he's having good at-bats. We just need to keep that rolling."

Updated August 17, 2017

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